Now that Christmas is past, I can finally post about the gifts I made! I love giving handmade gifts - and this year, I was very proud of a few of my creations :)
My nephews love playing with cars - and AGAAGG makes some killer felt car mats that gave me some great inspiration for this gift.
I ended up sewing most of the pieces together - which I am very glad that I did. It looks great, is durable, and personally, I much prefer sewing to gluing. I hate those hot glue strings all over the place!! Plus, felt can melt if you are not careful.
To start, I picked up some of the sturdy part-wool felt from the fabric store for the base. It is a 36" wide bolt, so my square was 36" x 36". All the rest of the felt I used was the really inexpensive, made from recycled bottles kind that I purchased by the yard.
Now, I might be a little bit more obsessive about this than other people, but I really like knowing how it is all going to look, and fit, before I start sewing. I started by drawing a rough draft of my mat on a little piece of paper.
Once I knew the general shape, any of the roads that were curved I sketched out in actual size on paper first (above). My roads were 2.25" wide, which I think worked out well. I made myself a little rectangle of paper at that width to constantly measured the curved roads so that they all ended up the correct and even width.
Once I had figured out where all my roads were, I taped off the table to match the size of my car mat, and started to lay everything out. (below) The blue tape represents the 36" square mat, and I could easily see where all my little buildings and details would fit! It made it easy to determine the size of the stores, and the houses, and see where I could fit in details like trees, road signs, a stop light, etc.
As I said, I secured almost everything by sewing. The exceptions were the words, and tiny details, like the bases on the baseball field below. For those I did use hot glue.
To make the words out of felt, I used the computer to make the letters in a font I liked, in the size that I needed. Then I printed the words out, cut them out, and then held them up to felt and cut around them. It was a bit tedious, but easy work to do in front of the TV. I recommend sharp tiny scissors!
There is a proper order in which to sew things down too!
Start with the roads. I sewed the yellow lines down first (don't pin, just measure the space in between each dash as you sew. Then, sew the roads to the mat. Another word to the wise...sew the border after the roads are finished. That way, if roads run off the end of the mat, the border can cover the raw edges.
Another example of sewing in the correct order - the houses, for example. I started by sewing the door to the body of the house. Then I sewed the body of the house, then the roof, then the chimney. That is true for all the buildings. Doors and details first, then sew the whole building down to the mat.
Road signs and trees were last.
I tried to incorporate puns for their family. Doug is my brother-in-law, hence "Doug it up Farm."
Finn is my nephew - so we have "Finnder Bender Garage." My husband is brilliant when it comes to thinking up puns - so I give him the credit :)
To make the farm sign and road signs I used fabric printer paper (the kind you can iron down), made the signs in Word, printed and cut them, and sewed them down.
I also included stores that were meaningful, if possible. Grandma's favorite store is Costco. Uncle Sean works at Home Depot. Dad worked at Smith's. You get the idea!
Overall, the gift was a huge hit! You can make these for girls or boys, by sewing or gluing, elaborate or simple - and they will be well loved!! Especially because they are easy to personalize, and everyone loves a unique gift!